Reunion House/Apartment

Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997.

Reunion House/Apartment

 

This shallow rectangle, a solid spine dug into the slope to the southeast, unfolds and opens into a taut De Stijl essay on point, line and plane, rendered in wood and glass, on its “street” facade. One enters the zigzag path to the entry, thick with trees and plants next to a dark, languid pool. One is deep in a forest in the middle of Los Angeles a stone’s throw from the “rolling traffic” of busy Silver Lake Boulevard.

The Reunion House earlier known as the Earl Street Reunion House, is a pivotal member of the Silver Lake Colony, which Neutra called a “postured grouping, meaning the grouping of a team in cooperative action, where each individual posture complements the others and no soulless, mere side-by-side prevails.” It is also the most private, in contrast to its neighbor which are far more engaged with the surrounding cityscape. The building was built “on spec” with a hypothetical client: grandparents whose hospitality fostered all kinds of reunions. One goal was to arrange spaces in such a way as to afford privacy for both primary residents as well as their visitors, so that the master bedroom is at the north end of the house while children and guests are near to the kitchen and garage. Another goal was to create ways to keep a relaxed eye on the children, thus, a patio/yard flanks both the dining room and the breakfast nook, confirming the kitchen’s role as “command central.” Dion Neutra, project architect of the house and long-time owner remodeled the original 1,620 square feet in 1966 and added a 640 square feet one-bedroom apartment over the garage two years later. “I remember prices of around $12/15 square feet in the 1950s for the average house; I would guess the budget for our house would be in the $20-22K range.”

No element is unimportant to the overall gestalt: even the gutter ruching beyond the fascia, plays a critical role in the composition – as well as ensuring water runoff occurs well away from the building envelope. Much of the DeStijl quality here is due to the dual orientation of the ‘spider leg outrigger’, first employed in houses such as the Nesbitt House (1942), used as tools to extend planes and stretch space int the landscape. In a 1968 letter to Richard and Raymond Neutra, Dion noted that this was an example of Neutra’s “sudden touch of originality or genius which would give rise to the spine leg rather than the old mitered beam [a beam cut at a 45 degrees angle to meet another perpendicular beam] that had been used so far.”

Project Detail

Project Architect

Richard and Dion Neutra

Location

2440 Neutra Place
Los Angeles, CA